January 18, 2013
Merritt: The Impact of the Law School Crisis on Women
The percentage of female 1Ls rose fairly steadily from 1967 (when it was just 4.9%) through 2001, when it hit 49.4%. But after 2002, the percentage started to decline. In fall 2010, the peak year for 1L enrollment, women constituted just 46.1% of the incoming class. That sounds like a marginal decline until you consider this fact: In 2009, the most recent year for which data are available, women earned 57.2% of all bachelor's degrees. If women constitute 57.2% of all college graduates, why do they make up just 46.1% of entering law students? ...
[W]hy don't more women come to law school? Why aren't our classes 55-60% women instead of 46%? Men score somewhat higher than women on the LSAT, but women have higher college grades. The sheer preponderance of women graduating from college should give them an advantage--if they wanted to go to law school.
The fact is that women's interest in law school has fallen. The percentage of women law students closely tracks the percentage of women law school applicants. Fewer women than men apply to law school today. And female applications, notably, fell off when law school tuition began to dramatically exceed expected salaries. Are women simply more price sensitive than men about legal education? There are good reasons that might be the case. ...
[W]e should think hard about why women have shown a declining interest in law school: They may be telling us that the product is not worth the price for them. And we should worry that the same price, combined with the saturated legal market, will also turn away men who want to raise children with their own dreams of higher education.
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Maybe the women are smarter--and this is the proof.
Posted by: michael livingston | Jan 19, 2013 5:30:10 AM